Is CoWashing ACTUALLY Good for 4C Natural Hair?

how to cowash 4c hair

In this article, we’re going to be answering every question you have about cowashing. We explore how to cowash 4c natural hair, the reasons to co wash natural hair, and how often you should cowash 4c hair!

In the usual Hibiscus Roots way, we’ll even be going into whether or not cowashing is ACTUALLY good for your natural hair. 

Get ready, we’re about to dive in. 

How do I Cowash 4C Natural Hair?

Cowashing is simply the act of washing your natural hair with conditioner instead of shampoo. It involves applying a moisturizing conditioner to the hair and scalp to help get rid of excess dirt while making the hair smoother and more manageable.

There are several debates in the natural hair community about whether or not cowash can actually clean 4c hair and scalp. We intend to present the facts clearly so you can decide for yourself! 

Why Should I Co-Wash 4C Natural Hair?

There are several reasons you may want to cowash your 4c hair instead of washing it with a shampoo. Cowashing may sound like a great alternative to shampoo for the following reasons: 

  1. You exercise often and/or sweat excessively on your scalp and you feel the need to get rid of the musk without washing your hair with shampoo. 

  2. The shampoos you currently use tend to feel stripping on your natural hair. 

  3. Your hair may feel dry and you want to give it a boost of moisture in-between proper washdays. 

  4. Cowashing may feel easier and faster to do; thus saving you time on washday. 

However, note that if you decide to implement cowashing into your natural hair routine, it should never fully replace a good cleansing and/or chelating shampoo.

Related Post: Busy Girl’s Guide – 7 Tips to Save Time on Washday

Is Co Washing Good for 4C Hair?

There are both benefits and drawbacks to cowashing 4c natural hair. Here are the benefits of cowashing 4c hair: 

  • Great way to remoisturize dry natural hair, 

  • Can facilitate detangling,

  • Acts as a physical aid to rinse products out of your hair. 

However, conditioner only typically has conditioning, moisturizing or strengthening ingredients. Further, it also does not contain any cleansing, foaming, or chelating ingredients. As a result, hair conditioners cannot actually remove excess dirt or oils from the hair and scalp. Cowashing can’t remove mineral buildup either. 

The exception is specially formulated co-wash products which are sold on the market. These products actually contain both conditioning, moisturizing as well as surfactant (cleansing and foaming) ingredients. 

Now, it might be easier to see why there is some controversy around cowashing 4c natural hair and whether it is enough to cleanse natural hair on its own.

Potential Risks of Co-washing Natural Hair

We’ve talked about the benefits of cowashing 4c natural hair, however, here are several potential disadvantages of cowashing hair;

  1. Hygral Fatigue: One risk of co washing natural hair is over moisturization and ultimately, hygral fatigue. Conditioners and often moisturizing so it is important to strengthen and keep the hair balanced. You can learn more about hygral fatigue in our post here.

  2. Itchy Scalp: If the scalp is never properly cleaned, then you risk product buildup that causes the scalp to itch. If you notice any scalp itch, we have a post that detailed how to treat an itchy scalp here.

  3. Hair Breakage: Excess product and mineral build-up can, unfortunately, lead to your hair breaking off.

How Often Should You Co Wash 4c Hair 

Co-washing is one way of incorporating moisture into your hair and cleansing it very gently. However, it should not be done so often that it completely replaces your other cleansing and shampoo treatments.

You can cowash your hair as often as you feel like. However, make sure you also use a cleansing or chelating shampoo often. This way, you can make sure that you remove any product or mineral build-up that may be deposited on your hair over time. 

What Causes Product and Mineral Build-Up in 4C Hair?

Product build-up is caused by the frequent application of oils, butters, and other products that form layers on the hair. If these layers are not removed, it can then become difficult for moisture, protein, or nutrients to penetrate the deep cortex of the hair. This eventually causes the hair to dry out from the inside out and break off. You can read more about how to stop breakage on 4C natural hair here.  

Mineral build-up on the other hand is caused by mineral deposits caused by washing your hair using hard water. If you aren’t sure if you have hard water in your area, you can tell by the excess build-up of limescale around your taps and pipes. Even if you don’t visibly notice hard water deposits, you can reduce the risk of mineral buildup by either:

  • investing in a water softening system — improves the general plumbing system and softens all sources of water in your house.

  • investing in a shower head filter — only filters the minerals from the source of water where it’s installed. Here’s a great shower head filter you can Buy on Walmart.


Cowashing has many benefits for natural hair, however, you should NEVER exclusively cowash your hair. After reading this article, you may decide that you don’t find cowashing to be effective at all and would rather use a light natural cleanser like Aloe Vera or Aritha Shampoo to wash your natural hair. 

On the other hand, you may decide that cowashing can be a great part of your hair routine, but you may also decide to incorporate clay washes with rhassoul clay or bentonite clay, or even medium-heavy cleansers like African black soap in addition to cowashing.

The decision to stop or to keep cowashing your natural hair should be based solely on how your hair feels and how it responds. To learn more about the other cleansers you can use to wash your natural hair instead see this post.

Read Next: How to Wash your Natural Hair Properly + Types of Natural Shampoo!

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Is CoWashing ACTUALLY Good for 4C Natural Hair?Is CoWashing ACTUALLY Good for 4C Natural Hair?Is CoWashing ACTUALLY Good for 4C Natural Hair?

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